Historic local council polls held in Penang
By admin, on 14 November 2010

The Penang Forum 3 elections have been a three-in-one process to learn the issues, listen to candidates and vote for civil Society representatives to the MPPP and MPSP, says the Penang Forum Steering Committee.


Voters casting their ballots enthusiastically at the Penang Forum 3 polls

More than 300 people participated in an election organised by Penang Forum 3 (PG3) on 14 November 2010. The event was organised to elect five persons each to the MPPP and MPSP. These ten will then be nominated by PG3 as civil society representatives to the two local authorities.

Prior to voting, the participants listened to talks by a serving Councillor and by other Penang Forum representatives about issues related to local council governance. Then they listened to short speeches by all the 24 contestants.

The most interesting aspect of the day’s event was its 3-in-1 feature: an opportunity to learn about the local government issues, to meet and question the candidates, and only then to vote.

Elected to the MPPP were:
Teo Lee Ken
Lim Mah Hui
Chin Khuan Sui
Loh Swee Heong
Dalbinder Singh
Elected to the MPSP were:
Tiun Ling Ta
Sivagurupatham a/l S Vadivelu
Teng Kim Chew
Krishnan a/l Samiah
Ung Teow Hong
The event was held in the Penang Chinese Girls School Alumni Hall (directly opposite St Nicholas), along Jalan Bagan Jermal. The meeting opened with a forum chaired by former Penang State Government Exco Member Datuk Dr Toh Kin Woon.

The first speaker was Ms Lim Kah Cheng, a three-term MPPP Councillor. She briefed those present about the structure of local government in Penang, about the workings of the MPPP and MPSP, and about the role of a Councillor. She warned that there would be lots of work to do but that the work was satisfying because one would be helping to improve the everyday lives of Penangites.

The second talk was by En Ahmad Chik who spoke on the Penang Forum and of the Forum’s expectations of would-be Councillors. Above all, these Councillors must prioritise the interests of the rakyat and uphold the CAT principles (competency, accountability and transparency). Ahmad called all present to endorse the Penang State Government’s ‘no plastic policy’ which the audience enthusiastically supported by raising their hands and shouting out a resounding ‘Yes’.

Following these talks, the candidates were introduced. Each was allowed to address the hall briefly. The audience also asked the candidates several questions. Earlier, outside the hall, some of the candidates and their supporters were canvassing for votes. Some had put up posters and distributed multi-coloured pamphlets.

Voting began at noon and ran smoothly. Nothing untoward occurred.

At 1.00pm, the counting of votes was conducted on stage in front of the contestants. P Ramakrishnan, president of Aliran, and Ahmad Chik, Penang Heritage Trust Council Member and Penang Forum representative, had been appointed as ‘Election Commissioners’. According to them, the voting and the entire election process had been ‘free, fair and transparent’. They thanked all present for their cooperation

YB Chow Kon Yeow, the Penang State Government Exco Member for Local Government and Transportation, was present to witness the last part of this pioneering event by Penang’s civil society organisations.

Penang Forum expectations of the elected

Prior to 14 November, all contestants had declared that they had read, understood and supported the principles contained in the Penang Forum Declaration, first adopted in April 2008.

Hence the elected are expected to promote the rights of marginalised groups (including women, workers, rural communities, youth, senior citizens, the disabled, homeless, as well as migrants and refugees); to protect Penang’s environment and preserve its heritage; to stress balanced, integrated and sustainable planning; to address and respond to urban services complaints; and to cater to the general interests of the entire Penang society, not just those interests of specific interest groups to which they might individually be affiliated.

All candidates, including the elected, were also informed of the following clause in the Local Government Act 1976, Section 10(2) about eligibility and suitability which reads: “Councillors of the local authority…shall be persons ordinarily resident in the local authority area who in the opinion of the State Authority have wide experience in local government affairs or who have achieved distinction in any profession, commerce or industry, or are otherwise capable of representing the interests of their communities in the local authority area”.

Indeed, all contestants including the ten elected, had declared that they do not hold office in any political party or in any chamber of commerce; have not been convicted as a criminal or declared a bankrupt; and that they do not belong to any association that agitates for racial supremacy or racial hatred.

Penang Forum

Penang Forum is a coalition of more than 40 Penang-based civil society organizations who first came together in April 2008. The steering committee comprises representatives from Aliran, Malayan Nature Society, Penang Heritage Trust, Persatuan Orang Cacat Anggota Malaysia, Suaram Penang, the Tg Bungah Residents Association, Taman Sri Nibong Residents Association, the Women’s Centre for Change, etc.

More information about Penang Forum and PG3 can be obtained from penangforum.net
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Penang Forum Steering Committee
14 Nov 2010 Aliran